Majoring in money

Students don’t just graduate from Portland State to get smarter.They graduate to earn more money.

That impression particularly arises when reviewing this year’sgraduation statistics. More than one in five graduates, over 22percent, earn their bachelor’s degrees from the School of BusinessAdministration. The second largest number of graduates were inpre-med and pre-law programs, also aspiring to healthy incomes.

This apparent preference for a degree that may lead to economicprosperity is not new, said David Burgess, research analyst withthe office of institutional research and planning.

“Ten years ago business also had 22 percent of graduates,”Burgess said.

According to figures compiled by Burgess, the top fivebachelor’s degrees for 2003-2004, in order, were business, generalstudies (social sciences), speech communications, psychology and,surprisingly, art. These top five majors account for almost fourout of 10 graduates, 36.5 percent to be exact.

The second largest number of graduates earned their degrees ingeneral studies (social sciences), another gelt-oriented major.These folks are predominately pre-med and pre-law. Again, they’reheading for careers where the money beckons. This degree totaled336, 11.6 percent of total graduates.

Total degrees granted by the university numbered 4,390. Slightlymore than half of these were master’s degrees. Doctorates totaled28.

Of a total of 2,892 bachelor’s degrees awarded, business had 640or 22.13 percent. Most popular majors within business weremanagement, with 226 graduates, and marketing, with 183.Significantly, nobody graduated in taxation. The reason: taxationhas not been offered as a major for about five years, according toScott Dawson, dean of the School of Business Administration.

Dawson said he has seen a consistent increase in the number ofbusiness majors.

“It seems to be a surer path to employment than some otherstudies,” he said. However, he had a word of advice to businessgraduates.

“Work and get some experience, then come back and get the MBA,”he suggested.

Third ranking speech communication and communication studiestotaled 320 bachelor’s degrees. Many students aspiring to careersin broadcasting and other mass communications are drawn to thisarea.

Psychology awarded 211 bachelor’s degrees.

“When undergraduates declared for a major, there were a lot morethan this number declaring for psychology. But many of thoseswitched to a different major before graduation,” Burgessexplained.

Art ranked a surprising fifth with 94. Art has traditionallybeen viewed as a great calling to starve in, but technology hashelped change this.

“Art is a popular major because art is a fabulous thing to do,”said Susan Agre-Kippenhan, department chair.

“We have over 900 art majors,” she added. The department hasthree majors: art history, traditional art and graphic design. Morethan half the majors are in graphic design. With the advent of thecomputer age, art teaches such skills as interactive web design andmulti-media creation.

Master’s degrees awarded by PSU added up to 1,470, with 544, or37 percent, of these from the graduate school of education. Therewere 28 doctorates awarded. Seven were in the College of LiberalArts and Sciences, in science. Another seven were earned in thegraduate school of education.

The college – as opposed to the school or department – totalingthe most bachelor’s degrees was Liberal Arts and Sciences, with1,698.

In this scientific age, one might expect that the College ofEngineering & Computer Science would be a leader ingraduations. The college did have 192 bachelor degrees and 214masters degrees but the majors were divided. Civil engineering,computer engineering, computer science, electrical and computerengineering and mechanical engineering split the college’s totalnumber of degrees.

A similar condition affected the College of Urban and PublicAffairs. It awarded 193 bachelor’s degrees, 131 master’s and fourdoctorates. The degrees were divided by programs, with politicalscience the most popular by a slim margin.